Sorghum, a new gluten-free grain for your risotto

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If you’re from the South there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the grain that is showing up more in stores and products: sorghum. Southerners have been using sorghum syrup as a sweetener for years. Sorghum is an ancient grain that is a staple crop in India and throughout Africa. Here in the US, it’s gaining in popularity due to its strong health benefits and versatile uses.

This grain has a nice mild flavor, is naturally gluten-free and packed full of nutrients.

All sorghum is whole grain – containing higher levels of fiber, protein and minerals than most other grains. It’s also rich in phytochemicals that may protect against cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sorghum comes in a range of colors with darker colored grains containing unique compounds.

sorghum-shotI love this versatile grain because it can be popped like popcorn, eaten as a puffed cereal or made into a creamy risotto. As we move further into fall and the cooler seasons, I am particularly fond of warm dishes like risotto that make for a comforting, one-pot meal.

This sorghum risotto recipe (see below) is easy to make and filled with bright flavors. Lightly toasting the sorghum in olive oil before cooking it brings out a slightly nutty flavor and gives the grain a nice golden color.

The key to making risotto is to allow the liquid to absorb slowly while it cooks. Once the first cup of broth is absorbed, you can add the remaining broth and step back with very little work while the rest of the liquid is absorbed. You may need to adjust the broth content slightly depending on the texture of the sorghum – if it tastes too al dente at the end, add another ½-1 cup broth at the end.

Once all the liquid is absorbed, add the remaining ingredients and cook briefly to warm the dish throughout. Serve garnished with a sprinkling of chopped basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

The peas in this recipe can be substituted for other ingredients such as butternut squash, mushrooms or asparagus, and it can easily work as a vegetarian dish without the shrimp.

What’s your favorite recipe using whole grain sorghum?

The recipe: Lemony Shrimp Sorghum Risotto.

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Author: Sonja Goedkoop

Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is the lead registered dietitian at Zesty, Inc. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through diet and physical activity and believes eating nutritious food should be easy and taste great. You can follow her on Twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.

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